I love hockey. Love. Despite growing up without playing, I recently took skating lessons and then went on to join the Halifax Co-ed Hockey League and am, on a really good day, not the worst player in the entire league. I love to watch hockey but no hockey is as important to me to watch as the World Junior Hockey Championships. I’ve been watching the best and brightest young hockey players we have represent our country with great pride. I’ve watched 18 year old men weep with joy at winning gold and sob with pain at losing it. Calling them men is a misnomer. They are boys. And no matter the result I always respect and admire these boys. And then came the commercial. 

It took me a few times to even understand what the product was. It had the sleekness of a beer commercial. But obviously it wasn’t going to be a beer commercial given that it was these junior hockey players. This one was still a drink, it just didn’t have any alcohol in it. It was Gatorade. Now, let’s start with this. I LOVE Gatorade. I’m a virtual addict. I use powder mix for my ice hockey games and love their pre and post workout drinks. I’ve gone as far as to pester my friend who is an executive with Pepsi Canada as to when they will release their pro series in Canada. As of yet he has maintained his professionalism and told me nothing, much to my chagrin.

The commercial starts be claiming that at the World Junior level, there is no discernible difference between the talent on the teams. Apparently the fine people at Gatorade don’t watch hockey or know anything about it. This was not the best team that Canada could field given that several of our best players were not released by their professional teams to play in the tournament including last year’s first overall pick in the NHL entry draft who just happens to be hometown Halifax boy, Nathan MacKinnon. To suggest that Germany and Canada have similar talent levels in the sport of hockey, on a national scale, is a ridiculous statement that fails to address historical evidence overwhelmingly to the contrary. But that’s not the part that bothers me.

After suggesting, incorrectly, that talent has nothing to do with this tournament, it goes on to suggest that the only difference between winning and losing is how bad you want it. As they put it, “you’re heart”. So, just so I’m clear, Gatorade, you’re suggesting that those young men, several years away from their twenties, who are currently sitting on the ice crying after battling it out with an incredibly talented team, just didn’t care enough?

It would have been better off for Gatorade had I NOT realized that this was their product. Here’s my advice for Gatorade;

Keep making a great product.
Hire a new advertising firm.
Don’t question the heart or work ethic of a bunch of teenagers.

Be careful with your brand. Make sure that everything you say is exactly what you meant to say. Someone is bound to take things that wrong way. It happens. Just don’t give the match to the person holding the bottle of lighter fluid.

PS I love Gatorade.

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